“If this continues I’ll have no choice but to leave my house. They beat us as if we are animals. They don’t consider us human.”
Kashmiris allege torture from India’s army amidst the crackdown in the region
In a new report by the BBC, statements have been taken from Kashmiris accusing the Indian army of severe allegations of torture. This comes amidst the shocking lockdown of the region by India after revoking Article 370 on August 5th, which had given the region of Kashmir relative autonomy since India gained independence from Britain in the 1940s.
Speaking to villagers from the southern part of the region, known for being a hub of anti-India protests over the last few years, reporter Sameer Hashmi heard claims of beatings with sticks and cables, as well as electric shocks used as a means of torture. While doctors from the region were unwilling to speak to foreign journalists in case of repercussions, many villagers instead came forward to explain exactly what was happening with the heavy crackdown of the region by the Indian army.
Two brothers from one village explained that they were woken in the middle of the night and taken to the village square with many others, where they were then beaten for information:
They kicked us, beat us with sticks, gave us electric shocks, beat us with cables. When we fainted they gave us electric shocks to bring us back. When they hit us with sticks and we screamed, they sealed our mouth with mud. We told them we are innocent. But they did not listen to us. I told them don’t beat us, just shoot us. I was asking God to take me, because the torture was unbearable.”
Another villager who spoke to the BBC explained that they were being tortured and beaten to give the names of the stone-throwers, referring to the protesters who have become the face of the protests in Kashmir against Indian control. Most of these protesters are teenagers and young adults, who have taken to the streets despite the lockdown imposed by India to fight against what many are calling a severe mishandling of human rights by the Indian state in the region of Kashmir.
Another young villager reported that Indian security forces “beat me mercilessly with rods and sticks, for almost two hours. Whenever I fell unconscious, they gave me shocks to revive [me]”. He went further to explain that the Indian officers threatened anyone in the village that if they participated in any form of protest, they would face similar or worse forms of beatings and torture in the future.
The statements of torture and beatings by the Indian army are relentless, with accounts of both physical and psychological torture. One villager recounts: “I was semi-conscious. They pulled my beard so hard that I felt like my teeth would fall out”. Another, who still cannot lie properly on his back after being tortured, explained: “If this continues I’ll have no choice but to leave my house. They beat us as if we are animals. They don’t consider us human”.
In response to these claims, the Indian army have claimed that these statements are “baseless and unsubstantiated”, with the Indian army spokesperson Col Aman Anand stating: “These allegations are likely to have been motivated by inimical elements. There have been no injuries or casualties due to countermeasures undertaken by the army”.
Despite India claiming that there have been no human rights abuses in the region, human rights groups and the Kashmiris on the ground continue to showcase evidence of severe abuses and cases of illegal imprisonment and torture by the Indian state. As the region continues to suffer under India’s crackdown, the world remains largely silent on yet another modern-day atrocity.